Last summer, parish ministry leaders pondered and prayed about options for our future growth. Specifically, they were as follows:
A. Do Nothing (in regard to Real Estate): Purchase no additional property but possibly add a second service to the Sunday schedule, i.e. an “early” liturgy in addition to the current format.
B. “Hive Off” Another Mission Congregation: Maintain HTOC as the “mother church” for a second mission to be planted in a new community about a half-hour’s drive from here (our first mission being the Chapel of the Holy Spirit).
C. Keep Our Sparks Location for a Ministry Center, but Relocate Worship to a New Site: The current location could be a student center or community outreach location.
D. Purchase Adjacent Property When It Becomes Available: Utilize adjoining facilities for offices, classrooms, and meeting space.
E. Relocate to New Site: Build a new, traditionally-designed church on a suitably located site.
Leaders analyzed each option, its strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats each might pose. This information was then evaluated by clergy staff for completeness: Were the right questions asked? Were the solutions proposed realistic and attainable? Did the option advance or hinder our mission?
Finally, this spring, Parish Council met in working session on May 18 to review the options and narrow the field for the church-at-large to begin to arrive at consensus over the coming months. The result of many months of deliberation, discussion, and debate was ultimately to present two options for parish consideration: Options “D” and “E”.
The other options were rejected in part because they either split the parish into two congregations—the early service congregation and the late service congregation, or the mission congregation and the “mother-church” congregation—or because of cost. (Option “C” was by far the most costly of the five.) These were not the only considerations, either for Options “D” and “E”, or against the first three.
The Council is to be commended for its willingness to sift through all the options and give the parish the benefit of its collective wisdom. Two things emerged during this process. Parish Council is united in wanting our parish to grow further, in obedience to the Great Commission; and Council believes strongly that our parish needs to remain “one in essence, and undivided.” (Where have we heard that before?)
Where does this leave us now? Over the summer, both options will be displayed on “response boards” in the Parish Hall. Everyone will have the opportunity to ask more questions and reflect honestly over what might be the best choice for our future. An informational meeting will be held early this fall, for open response and reflection. A parish vote could be held as early as the annual meeting in late autumn.